Former MEGADETH guitarist Dave Mustaine has broken his silence regarding the group's breakup and his plans for a solo project, saying that "the music that I'm writing right now is as good as anything I've ever written."
In a lengthy interview with Guitar World magazine published in the August 2003 issue, Mustaine addresses the reasons for MEGADETH's split and discusses his relationship with his former bandmates, calling the band he founded a "legend" and insisting that "I'm not going to cheapen it like some of these bands that keep going long after they should."
The following are some of the highlights of Guitar World's Dave Mustaine interview:
On whether he's playing again:
Dave Mustaine: "Yeah. I had a little setback with my left arm, back in January of 2002. I had a decompressed radial lunar nerve. I couldn't grasp anything, I couldn't move it from left to right, nothing. I did about four months of physical therapy, a lot of praying, and a lot of just eating right, taking supplements — vitamins and minerals — and [resting], and just a lot of stretching and exercising outside of the physical therapy that I would do five times a week. Oddly enough, because I was doing two-hour metal calisthenics toward the end of MEGADETH's tenure, I had also developed some tendon damage in the small finger of my left hand. So everything turned out for the better, because my hand healed during the time off.
"It was really interesting — it was like God touched my hand to make me stop what I was doing, to make me take a look at everything. I looked at my family, I looked at my relationship with my wife, I looked at the band, I looked at my career, I looked at the damage that had taken place to my hand, prior to the nerve getting hurt. And I just took a sabbatical. And things are better for me right now than they were before it happened. I came out on the other side of this way, way blessed, because my relationship with my kids, and wife is good, and the music that I'm writing right now, I think is as good as anything I've ever written."
On his relationship with the other MEGADETH guys:
Dave Mustaine: "You know, [bassist] David Ellefson and I have been through a lot of stuff, and when I first told him that I was going to leave the group, he was obviously upset, and I don't know that he really believed that I had an injury to the degree that I had. [Guitarist] All Pitrelli, he's a great player, but he'd just gotten married, and I don't think that he wanted to be in a band. But I'm happy for him that he's doing what he wants. [Drummer] Jimmy DeGrasso, that was kind of a weird thing — I got a really offensive phone call from his girlfriend. Actually, I'd just called to look for him, and she'd gotten in my face, and I haven't talked to him since. It's like 'Dude you know what? I don't care how good you are, your old lady needs to chill.' When somebody's wife is talking to the boss like that, that's unacceptable."
On persistent rumors that he wasn't injured at all but that he was just going back into rehab:
Dave Mustaine: "Oh, I did! I did. I had a kidney stone, and there was something that happened. You go five years without doing any drugs, and they reintroduce narcotics into your system and…I just said, 'You know what? I can't do this.' And I decided that I wanted to get my system cleaned out again. It wasn't like I was shooting heroin or anything like that. I basically wasn't feeling good, and I went to a treatment center to go get healthy, and to reestablish my understanding of what I need to do in order to be healthy. . . It had just gotten so hard to be around all the guys in the band, and the management was so fucking horrible at the time —everything they said was basically just not true. I had moved over to Spain for six weeks and a bunch of concerts that they had set up there were a lie. I had moved my family over there, and I was supposed to come home to the place we rented every week. And then these fake, bullshit shows that they had confirmed with an unknown unproven promoter disappeared. And that was hard on all of us.
"When Marty Friedman left, he had started to get fed up with how the band was being run. And when Nick Menza was let go, that's when the band should have broken up. Because it was never the same. Granted, Jimmy's a good drummer, but it was never the same. And once Marty left, it was like, who are you trying to kid here? Al's great, but it's kind of like fucking CREDENCE CLEARWATER REVISITED. I am and always will be MEGADETH. But if you're doing something that you don't want to do, and you're unhappy about it, and you've got an allergy to certain stuff, and the bottom falls out, and you're stuck on the other side of the world and you don't want to be there, and they say, 'Well, this show got canceled, and you're going to have to do four more on all your days off to make up for it….' You know what? The thought of going and having a cold one sounds pretty good! And so I had a moment of clarity — I'm going down a road that I don't want to go down again. I just went and got myself sorted out, and that's when I had the moment of clarity that the band is just not happening anymore. MEGADETH is a legend and I'm not going to cheapen it like some of these bands that keep going long after they should.
On the possibility of a drug relapse and the reformation of MEGADETH:
Dave Mustaine: "Well, you know if you're a drug addict, the chance is possible that you'll always do it. But the thing about MEGADETH getting together — I don't know. Oddly enough, Marty Friedman called me last night. I talk to David Ellefson every once in a while, and I've been talking to Nick Menza. We spent a long part of our lives together, and even though it all ended up kind of weird, that's the band. I care a lot about those guys, and if the circumstances were right, I would certainly consider it — if it was healthy, and it was good for me, for my lifestyle now, and the family that I rebuilt.
"I'm not going to tour again. I'll be planning on doing some concerts, but a bona fide, get in the bus, pack your suitcase, and go out for four months thing, I wont be doing that again. It just doesn't appeal to me. Touring is really hard, especially when all you've got is the people you're surrounded with, and they're conspiring to get more money out of you, or making you do shit that you don't want to do… No, thanks, man. I'll go home.
On his solo project:
Dave Mustaine: "Well, I'm hoping to have something for the beginning of 2004. Obviously, I want to be very particular about the people I play with, because I have played with some of the greatest guitarist in the metal community. I don't plan on forming a new band — I just want to find some players that are great, that want to go out with me and do some dates, players that I can go into the studio with and I'm not going to have to recut their shit when they leave."
On the MEGADETH back catalog:
Dave Mustaine: "Well, for the 20th anniversary of MEGADETH, Capitol is planning on reissuing every record that we ever did with them. They're also planning on putting out an anthology record and possibly a 'rare tracks' record. I went to New York and Los Angeles to look at the vaults and check out the catalog that was there, and I found a lot of versions of songs that had never been released, and songs that weren't completed. It'd be really interesting to go into the studio and complete the tracks- just put on a vocal and solo. And they also want to do a DVD of all the videos. Sanctuary — which is what MEGADETH is still signed to — they want to put out a couple of rare CD's to help offset the whole MEGADETH going into mothballs kind of thing. And we had an acoustic performance we did in Toronto for Musique Plus — Sanctuary wants to do something with that."
(Thanks: Guitar World)